Paid Leave Authority CEO Andrea Barton Reeves (CTNewsJunkie file photo) Credit: Christine Stuart photo

HARTFORD, CT – The Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Authority board unanimously selected Andrea Barton Reeves to head the newly created quasi-public agency that will oversee the program.

Barton Reeves has deep ties to the Greater Hartford community. For the past seven years she has been the CEO of HARC, a large not-for-profit provider of services for people with intellectual and related disabilities. Before that, she served as the director of program operations at Lawyers for Children America Inc., and worked in the insurance industry at Chubb.

Josh Geballe, commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services and chair of the FMLIA board, said Barton Reeves gained claims and technology experience while working at Chubb. He said it’s that experience that will serve her well in her new role. However, he said it’s also her “excitement for the challenge at hand” that made her an excellent choice.

The challenge is daunting.

Barton Reeves will have to build a $400 million business from scratch in two years, “while minimizing administrative costs and providing outstanding service to 1.7 million working people in this state and their employers,” Geballe said.

Connecticut’s paid FMLA program will begin collecting money from workers starting on Jan. 1, 2021, and is targeted to begin distributing benefits starting in January 2022.

Under the law Connecticut passed last year, businesses will be required to manage payroll withholdings starting in January 2021. The authority will set the actual level of employee premium contributions, but the law caps it at 0.5% of a worker’s earnings.

Benefits will begin for those who qualify starting in January 2022.

Residents will be able to access up to 12 weeks of paid leave to take time off from work when they need to care for their own health, a newborn child, or a sick family member.

Gov. Ned Lamont said for the first time there are more women than men working in this country, which makes “paid leave more important than ever for the workplace of the 21st century.”

Lamont said Connecticut is a state that “doesn’t make you choose between a sick child and the job you love.”